Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bed, Malate (First Part)

It was just a matter of time before the laser lights and disco ball lure me back to the dance floor. I was in my early twenties, my second relationship was just barely a year old, and my time at Mint and Mister Piggy's - dance clubs that were infamous for their scant lighting and perverse dark rooms - were too memorable, I would like to be seen at the club scene some more. I've been a regular fixture in Malate for the past year and a half. To suddenly walk away and abstain from the nightlife - like men in relationships are expected to do - means losing the place I go for solace and distraction.

I am not ready to give up the dance club.

So when friends decided to check out the newest party place in town, it didn't take a lot of convincing for me to join. "You're in good hands," they assured. "Your boyfriend will not find out." I no longer remember where on earth did we go in Malate to drink that night, but after the Contingent went their separate ways, those of us who stayed behind sashayed to the belly of the Orosa Courtyard to queue at this place called Bed.

What I recall is that Bed was flanked by Fidel and New York Shop Cafe - boheme restaurants that offered fine dining experience to those who can afford it. Upstairs, there's this boutique called Pride Exchange. The store sold lubes, dildos, neon-colored undies and undershirts for those gay enough to wear them. We have no idea what to see inside Bed. What we know is that it occupies a sliver of space, and we doubt it can accommodate everyone who tried to get in. 

When the dark-skinned bouncer opened the red bar door for us, I was in complete awe by what I found inside. Gorgeous men were everywhere. Some were half-naked, almost all of them had the physique of Adonis. Even the Go-Go boys looked like they did some commercial photo shoot first before moonlighting at the club. The likes of me - who was fat, fashionably challenged and had no social connections in Malate felt unwelcome.

But I had no choice. I need to fit in.

The dance floor itself was a narrow strip with a disco ball hanging from the ceiling. It divides two ledges and a stair leading to the second floor. Drinks were served below deck. Across the bar counter were velvet sofas where the demi-gods of Malate out-gay one another. Upstairs, there's a plush seat shaped like an O. It overlooks the dance area. I used to lounge there when parties wind down. Dazed and exhausted from all the dancing, I would look at the people below and think of the lives they lead outside the club. 

Bed 2 opens to public (2005)

The first time was followed by another, and another, until the weekly pilgrimage stayed unbroken for years. And despite unsuccessfully finding lasting friends there (I have my Brodders anyway), I would rather stay at Bed than get in all sorts of trouble and temptation in Bath and Red Banana. The only time I had to leave the place was when it had an expansion. Government opened its doors. I loved the music and for the first time, my attention was diverted.

No longer would I see the club the same way again

Life went on unhinged, and Bed - for half a lifetime of my gay life - had been a place of refuge and reverie. I return every time I need to unwind, to nurse a broken heart, or when the need to belong outweighs the call of solitude. Sometimes, I would return to introduce a rookie into the fabulousness of the Pink life, or simply, to catch up with the latest dance anthems spun by the club's resident DJs.

For a generation of gay men, Bed was the original nest. It was the place to be; the spot where the has-been and will-be converge to be seen, checked at, and be talked about. But for me it was home - until they thought of occupying large swathes of the courtyard and their music stayed - Diva House - when my ears sought something orgasmic - like progressive house remixes.

Club Bed would burn to the ground. But by the time it was put back in place, I have stepped on so many dance floors that I no longer feel the vibe of Orosa. For some of us who had returned to the flirt side of clubbing, we would begin to see Bed as a social place - where the old vanguards and their stateside guests go, and reminisce the early days, when Malate was every gay guy's fairy tale. I would go on complaining about the music. The pricey cover charge. The swanky atmosphere when all I wanted was a quick and easy lay.

I would fall in love the third time. Succeed in purging myself of the dance fever. But the union didn't last and I would once again pick up the pieces in places like Bed. Upon my return just a few weeks ago - to grieve once more at the derelict that has become Malate, I would learn of the club's fate - like the fate of all the dance clubs before it.

Bed leaves Malate. Never to return again.


1 comment:

dario the jagged little egg said...

Sis' I can still remember as if it was yesterday hehe : ) I miss Malate kaso naging baklitang Cubao na ako.